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Sunday, September 17, 2017

What to Do when You'Re Bored to Take Pictures

Note: I am going through a very busy period, with a lot of personal & other obligations. The frequency of articles might suffer a bit for the next couple of months or so, but I expect to be back on a quasi-weekly form by Christmas. Thanks! 

I had an interesting online discussion a couple of days ago. Someone was asking for advice from the photographers' community, saying that he wanted to take photos but that he was bored and didn't know what to photograph. I decided to write an article about this because, it seems, this might be a more generalized issue than it might initially appear.

You must feel and experience before you can take photos


To state the obvious: photography is a form of art. You're supposed to create something that conveys your emotions, thoughts, or states of mind (in other words: affect) to other people, that is, your audience. Or, to put a different spin on it, you're supposed to inspire a reaction to your audience - in other words, the affect they "read" might not necessarily be the same you're "writing".

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Photoshop Tutorial: Using Paths for Precise Selection

Note: I am going through a very busy period, with a lot of personal & other obligations. The frequency of articles might suffer a bit for the next couple of months or so, but I expect to be back on a quasi-weekly form by Christmas. Thanks!

A little Photoshop tutorial after some time. Selection techniques (or rather their deployment) is one of the most difficult aspects of photo editing. In an earlier article we'd talked about some of those techniques in connection with selecting hair or foliage, but today I'll show you how to use the path tools of Photoshop to select larger, block-type areas with great precision.

At this point you might wonder why should you not just use the magic wand, the magnetic lasso, or the freehand lasso tool to do the job. The answer is simple: because those tools don't give you the ability to fine-tune the selection the way the path tool does. Even the magnetic lasso tool isn't perfect at finding edges, and that is especially the case if what you're trying to select might be a well-defined object, but not a well-defined image. It's easier to see this with a photographic example.

The side wall is a well-defined object but thanks to
the shadow it's not a well-defined image
In the photo above, let's assume you want to make an adjustment to the side wall, in the left side of the stairs. It's a well-defined object, with a more-or-less sharp differentiation from the stairs. However, if you tried to use the magnetic lasso tool you'd discover that Photoshop is fooled by the shadow and, as a result, selects part of the stairs with it. This is not acceptable. The path tool to the rescue!

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Review of the Sigma Zoom Master 35-70mm f/2.8-4

General


Today's review was made when I gave myself a challenge: what's the cheapest lens I can get on Ebay that I can actually put on my Nikon and shoot with it? Well, the Sigma Zoom Master 35-70mm f/2.8-f/4 of course! I got it for free, it came with a film camera some time ago. I suspect the seller simply used it in lieu of a body cap. But is this lens worth anything more than that? Let's find out

With plenty of sun and stationary subjects, it works

Pros/Cons

+ cheap. Very cheap. Even if you actually have to buy one, it usually goes for less than $20
+ decent f/2.8-f/4 aperture (certainly better than the ubiquitous f/3.5-f/5.6 in modern AFS zooms)
+ reasonable build quality (again, compared to modern plastic-it's-fantastic lenses)